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“They didn’t make me an organizer. They made me a convict.”

December 9, 2014


When the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson came through, Frankie told me what he thought: “I’m outraged and the people that I hang around are outraged because they keep getting away with certain things. We not finna let them get away this time…Missouri is the show-me state. We ain’t doing no talking. We’re gonna show them…Muhfuckas ain’t gonna keep taking this bullshit. I know I ain’t gonna keep taking no bullshit. They keep killing our brothers out here. This is our race.”

All Frankie knows is black people are either dying or disappearing. His cousin: in prison with two life sentences. His brother: killed a week before our second interview. Michael Brown, Vonderrit Myers, Tanisha Anderson, Eric Garner, Kajieme Powell, Tamir Rice, and John Crawford III, over the span of a few months. I ask Frankie how he’s doing. “Hurting,” he says, looking down at his hands, his shoulders hunched. “Hurting real bad.”

It’s a feeling shared by a lot of protesters, who refused to suffer in silence. If they had to feel the pain, the rest of the world should feel it, too. Or as someone borrowed from Katniss and tagged on a St. Louis landmark in the Shaw neighborhood, “If we burn, you burn with us.”

The community work Frankie has been doing for the past 10 years includes mentoring, providing people with jobs and child support, setting people up with GED classes, and getting amnesty for people with traffic warrants. He hopes to continue this work with a group called the Mighty 13, made up of 12 other men he met while protesting in August. The group will help people who have run-ins with the law, set people up with job opportunities and other resources, and survey people regarding the issues they’re concerned with in the neighborhood. But in Ferguson, the collective outcry that began in August and has lasted for over 100 days was more than the trauma of a few hours. The ingredients to make St. Louis boil over have been adding up for years.

Read More | “The Protester” | Raven Rakia | Matter


“Anti-Black racism was built into American police work from the very first day.”

December 8, 2014


On both sides of the Atlantic, most arrests were related to victimless crimes, or crimes against the public order. Another Marxist historian Sidney Harring noted: “The criminologist’s definition of ‘public order crimes’ comes perilously close to the historian’s description of ‘working-class leisure-time activity.’”

Outdoor life was — and is — especially important to working-class politics. Established politicians and corporate managers can meet indoors and make decisions that have big consequences because these people are in command of bureaucracies and workforces. But when working people meet and make decisions about how to change things, it usually doesn’t count for much unless they can gather some supporters out on the street, whether it’s for a strike or a demonstration. The street is the proving ground for much of working-class politics, and the ruling class is fully aware of that. That’s why they put the police on the street as a counter-force whenever the working class shows its strength.

Now we can look at the connections between the two major forms of police activity — routine patrols and crowd control. The day-to-day life of patrolling gets police accustomed to using violence and the threat of violence. This gets them ready to pull off the large-scale acts of repression that are necessary when workers and the oppressed rise up in larger groups. It’s not just a question of getting practice with weapons and tactics. Routine patrol work is crucial to creating a mindset among police that their violence is for the greater good.

The day-to-day work also allows commanders to discover which cops are most comfortable inflicting pain — and then to assign them to the front lines when it comes to a crackdown. At the same time, the “good cop” you may meet on the beat provides crucial public-relations cover for the brutal work that needs to be done by the “bad cops.” Routine work can also become useful in periods of political upheaval because the police have already spent time in the neighborhoods trying to identify the leaders and the radicals.

Read More | “Origins of the Police” | David Whitehouse | Works in Theory


“Your idols will look different in their suits and ties — their trophies and plaques will be scars and bullet wounds, stretch marks and missing teeth, the smiles that make you uncomfortable”

December 4, 2014


For freedom may mean that the alienated, the mis-educated, the thugs, the orphans will be your equals. Your sweat, your readings, your struggle proves you are human, but to the white man it will mean less. The education I received surviving outside of whiteness will mean more. The bodies of the dead around me will be remembered and you will love them, not “loved” them in the past tense. We do not know Marx, Black bourgeois theories or savings accounts. But we have survived the gun battles, hiding our children from police and gangsters. Your idols will look different in their suits and ties — their trophies and plaques will be scars and bullet wounds, stretch marks and missing teeth, the smiles that make you uncomfortable. They will all be real. That is the freedom I am looking for.

Read more | “The Lumpen Blacks” | Messiah Rhodes | Youngist


“Kayla from Bleed the Pigs is too aggressive and angry”

December 2, 2014


The eye-rolling irony that I’m still cast aside as the Angry Black Woman in a scene that is made up of nothing but angry, pissed off, cast aside white men who sometimes use my own struggles for their own benefit isn’t lost on me. People are wary of that which they do not know, and one of those things is an unapologetic Black girl voicing herself. So, yes, I’m angry as fuck about a lot of things. I carry it with me just to survive sometimes. You absolutely don’t have to like the music I make, or what I sing about, but if you find yourself upset by my level of anger, and not the white guy saying something similar, I’m not going to be complacent and sugarcoat my frustration for you. It’s unfortunate that my seemingly like-minded peers can’t find it in themselves to actually look at the reasons why race continues to play a part in our daily lives due to its disproportionate presence and history, instead of trying to be louder than the ones affected by it.

Read more | “What Do Hardcore, Ferguson, and the “Angry Black Woman” Trope All Have in Common?” | Kayla Phillips | Noisey


“You have a Wilberforce University Faculty ID and 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot dead by police for holding a BB gun.”

December 1, 2014


I didn’t expect to see my student Orion, a black boy from Boston, sitting palms down on the sidewalk in front of a police car a few Thursdays ago on my way from the gym. I got in the face of the two interrogating officers telling them, “He didn’t do nothing” and “Leave my student the fuck alone,” when I found out he was being accused of trying to steal a security golf cart.

I didn’t expect the same two security guards who’d stopped me for walking in front of the President’s house to tell the officers interrogating Orion that the golf cart was theirs and Orion was “a good kid, a Vassar student” who was just going to get a slice of pizza.

By the time one of the heads of Vassar security, in the presence of the current Dean of the College, told one of my colleagues and me that there was “no racial profiling on campus” and that we were making the black and brown students say there was, I expected almost everything.

I expected that four teenage black boys from Poughkeepsie would have security called on them for making too much noise in the library one Sunday afternoon. I expected security to call Poughkeepsie police on these 15 and 16-year-olds when a few of them couldn’t produce an ID. I expected police to drive on the lawn in front of the library, making a spectacle of these black boys’ perceived guilt.

A few days after Vassar called police on those children, a police officer visited one of the boys while he was in class and questioned him about some stolen cell phones and iPods at Vassar. When the kid said he didn’t know anything about any stolen cell phones, the officer told the 15-year-old black child, who might have applied to Vassar in three years, to never go back to Vassar College again.

I didn’t expect that.

Read more | “My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK” | Kiese Laymon | Gawker